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EPA Protects Source of Drinking Water for Tug Hill

Release Date: 11/15/2006
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated the Northern Tug Hill glacial aquifer as a sole source aquifer under the Safe Drinking Water Act thereby affording it special protection by the Agency. The designation formally recognizes the dependence of several communities in the Tug Hill area, located about 30 miles north of Syracuse, on the aquifer as their main source of drinking water, and from now on requires careful review of projects in the area that receive federal funding to ensure that they will protect public health and not endanger the water source.

“The public asked us to intervene and we have responded by moving proactively to protect this vital aquifer,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “Since there are no alternative sources that can provide the same quantity of drinking water at a reasonable cost, it’s important to make this designation in the public interest and to protect public health.”

The Northern Tug Hill aquifer is highly vulnerable to contamination because it contains soil that allows water to quickly drain through it and due to the shallow depth of its ground water. The sole source aquifer designation by EPA will help raise public awareness and will alert local, state and federal government stakeholders to carefully consider how their actions might impact ground water in the region.

The sole source aquifer covers approximately 14 square miles across Jefferson, Lewis, and Oswego Counties in New York. It serves approximately 5,000 residents and is the principal source of drinking water for the hamlets of Adams Center and Pierrepont Manor and the villages of Adams, Lacona, Mannsville, and Sandy Creek. The special EPA protection was made in response to a petition from the village of Lacona and will become effective on November 16, 2006 after having undergone a period for public comment and review this past summer.

Sole source aquifer designations are one tool to protect drinking water supplies in areas with few or no alternative sources to the ground water resource, and where if contamination occurred, using an alternative source would be extremely expensive. EPA will review all federally funded projects to ensure that they are designed and constructed in a way that does not create a significant hazard to public health. In EPA’s Region 2, comprised of New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and 7 Tribal Nations, there are 14 sites designated as sole source aquifers.

For information on Sole Source Aquifers, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ssanp.html

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